South African Cheese Guide: Varieties & Tips

Cheese from South Africa

South Africa’s cheese industry is as diverse and rich as the country itself. From creamy brie to tangy Boerenkaas, South African cheese offers a unique gastronomic experience that is unparalleled. In this comprehensive guide, we explore everything you need to know about cheese production, exports, and the best local producers. Whether you’re a cheese enthusiast or simply curious about the best cheeses from South Africa, this is the guide for you.

The History of Cheese in South Africa

Cheese production has a rich history in South Africa. Although it was not until the late nineteenth century that cheese production became more than just a household industry, the country has since emerged as a top cheese producer, both for domestic consumption and export.

The early influences on cheese production were the Dutch who brought with them their knowledge of cheese making. The production of cheese was later influenced by the British and French who introduced new methods and varieties, such as Brie and Camembert. Today, South Africa boasts a thriving cheese industry with a wide range of artisanal and specialty cheeses being produced.

The cheese industry in South Africa has grown significantly over the last few decades, thanks to technological advancements and innovations in cheese production. With more producers and a growing demand for cheese, South Africa is poised to become a major player in the global cheese market in the coming years.

Traditional South African Cheese Varieties

South African cheese is renowned for its unique flavors and textures that reflect the country’s rich culinary history. Crafted for generations, traditional South African cheese varieties have become a true gastronomic delight. From the crumbly, tangy, and slightly sweet Boerenkaas to the buttery and creamy Brie, South African cheese offers a wide range of flavors and textures.


Boerenkaas is a crumbly cheese made from raw milk and aged for at least six months. With a slightly sweet and nutty taste, Boerenkaas is perfect for slicing and shredding.


Brie is a soft and creamy cheese with a buttery texture and a mild flavor. Made from cow’s milk, it is perfect for spreading on crackers and bread or adding to a cheese platter.


Cheddar is a hard and sharp cheese with a distinctive taste. Made from cow’s milk, it is perfect for grating and adding to savory dishes, such as macaroni and cheese.


Feta is a tangy and salty cheese with a crumbly texture. Made from sheep’s milk, it is ideal for crumbling over salads and roasted vegetables.

These are just a few examples of the traditional South African cheese varieties that have become a staple in the culinary scene. Whether enjoyed on their own or used as ingredients in various dishes, traditional South African cheese varieties have something to offer to cheese enthusiasts and food lovers alike.

The Best South African Cheese Producers

South Africa boasts of a rich cheese heritage, and its cheese industry has grown exponentially over the years. Today we take a look at some of the best cheese producers in the country. These producers are dedicated to producing exceptional cheese using traditional methods, ensuring that their products stand out from the rest in terms of taste and quality.

Cheese Producer Cheese Varieties Location
Healey’s Cheese Blue cheese, Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Gouda, and more Western Cape
Belnori Boutique Cheese Chevre, soft cheese, feta, and more Gauteng
La Montagne Dairy Cheese Cheddar, Brie, blue cheese, feta, and more Western Cape
Fairview Cheese Camembert, Brie, Feta, Chevre, Blue cheese, and more Western Cape
Klein River Cheese Gouda, Colby, Havarti, and more Western Cape

If you are a cheese lover looking to explore South African cheese, you cannot go wrong with these producers. They have a reputation for producing some of the finest cheese varieties in the country, and their products can be found in most supermarkets and specialty stores.

Gourmet South African Cheese Delights

South African cheese is not only renowned for its traditional varieties, but also for its innovative flavors and artful crafting. Gourmet cheese lovers can indulge in a delicious journey of exquisite and sought-after cheeses that are sure to delight any palate. Here are some of the must-try gourmet South African cheese favorites:

Cheese Description Image
Buchu Chevre A soft goat’s cheese blended with indigenous South African Buchu herb, adding a unique flavor that has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Gourmet South African Cheese
Baldwin A semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk and rubbed with paprika, offering a rich, smoky taste and a distinctive bright red-orange rind. Gourmet South African Cheese
Boschendal Blanc A creamy soft-ripened cheese with a white bloomy rind, made from cow’s milk with a delicate nutty flavor and a tangy finish. Gourmet South African Cheese
Drakensberg A semi-hard cheese with a natural rind, made from raw cow’s milk and aged for at least six months, offering a robust and full-bodied taste with earthy undertones. Gourmet South African Cheese

These are just a few examples of the many delicious gourmet South African cheeses available. Pair with local wines, fruits, and charcuterie for a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience.

South African Cheese for Export

South African cheese has become increasingly popular globally, and it is no surprise that the demand for this unique cheese is growing exponentially. With the variety of cheeses South Africa produces, from traditional to gourmet, there is a significant market for exporting.

The most popular South African cheese exports include cheddar, gouda, and goat cheese. Europe, the United States, and China are among the leading importers of South African cheese, with a strong demand for its unique flavors. Other markets in Africa and Asia are also showing significant interest in South African cheese.

Cheese exports South Africa

Country Annual Value of South African Cheese Exports (USD)
United Kingdom $15,873,000
Germany $6,712,000
China $3,976,000
United States of America $3,546,000
Mozambique $1,221,000

This table showcases the top five export markets for South African cheese and the annual value of cheese exports to each country in USD. These figures indicate a significant opportunity for South African cheese producers to expand their reach and satisfy the growing global demand for their products.

Pairing South African Cheese with Local Producers

South African cheese is a true reflection of the country’s rich culinary heritage, making it an ideal pairing with locally-produced delicacies.

When it comes to finding the perfect match, cheese and wine are often a classic choice, but there are countless other options. For example, a rich and nutty Gouda pairs well with dried fruits and nuts, while a tangy Cheddar can be matched with pickled vegetables or cured meats such as biltong. For a truly indulgent pairing, try a soft and creamy Camembert with fresh figs or a sweet fruit chutney.

South African cheese producers take pride in crafting exceptional cheeses using traditional methods, and their commitment to quality and sustainability is evident in their products. Some of the leading South African cheese producers include:

Producer Cheese Varieties Location
Fairview Goat’s Milk Cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Blue Cheeses Paarl, Western Cape
Belnori Boutique Cheesery Gouda, Cheddar, Blue Cheese, Feta Belfast, Mpumalanga
Lynx Cheese Chevre, Feta, Haloumi, Camembert Potchefstroom, North West

Pairing South African cheese with local producers is an excellent way to showcase the unique flavors of the country. Not only does it allow for the discovery of new and exciting flavor combinations, but it also supports local businesses and agriculture.

Tips for Buying South African Cheese

When selecting the perfect South African cheese, it’s crucial to consider several factors to ensure freshness and optimal quality. Follow these expert tips for buying South African cheese:

  • Look for cheese with a clean, smooth rind and without any cracks or splits.
  • Check the label for the cheese’s origin, production date, and type of milk used.
  • Consider the flavor profile and texture of the cheese. Do you prefer something mild or sharp, crumbly or creamy?
  • Choose cheese that’s close to its expiration date to guarantee freshness and peak flavor.
  • Consider purchasing directly from South African cheese producers for the freshest selection.

By following these simple tips, you can buy South African cheese like a pro and elevate your cheese experience to new heights.

About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender is a cheese lover from Germany. Having lived abroad for many years he contributes to this site with passion.

South African Cheese Recipes and Serving Suggestions

South African cheese is not just a savory delight on its own, it can also be incorporated into delectable recipes to add a burst of flavor. Here are some creative ideas for making the most of your favorite South African cheese:

Cheese Board

Arrange a selection of your favorite South African cheeses on a wooden board, paired with fruits like pear or figs, nuts, and crackers to create a show-stopping platter that’s perfect for entertaining.

Boerenkaas Quiche

Combine boerenkaas cheese with bacon and spinach in a savory quiche for a brunch or lunch treat.

Ingredients Directions
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  • 1/2 lb Boerenkaas cheese, shredded
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir in cheese, bacon, and spinach.
  4. Pour mixture into pie crust.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is set and the top is golden brown.

Biltong and Blue Cheese Steak Salad

Top a salad of mixed greens with sliced biltong, crumbled blue cheese, and a flavorful dressing for an elevated twist on a classic dish.

Grilled Haloumi Skewers

Cut haloumi cheese into cubes and skewer with vegetables of your choice, then grill for a summertime treat.

These are just a few ideas to explore the versatile world of South African cheese. Try experimenting with different varieties and recipes to find your perfect pairing.

Future of South African Cheese

The South African cheese industry continues to evolve to meet changing consumer preferences and market demands. With a rich history and diverse variety of traditional and gourmet cheeses, there is much potential for growth and innovation in the industry.

Advancements in Production Methods

The use of modern technology and sustainable practices is becoming increasingly important in South African cheese production. From advanced fermentation techniques to reduced carbon emissions, producers are finding new ways to improve efficiency, quality, and environmental impact.

Emerging Trends

Consumers are seeking out unique and healthier options, and the South African cheese industry is responding with new flavors, ingredients, and formats. From plant-based cheeses to artisanal creations, there are exciting opportunities for growth and differentiation.

Advancements in Production Methods Emerging Trends
Technology Adopting new fermentation techniques to enhance flavor and texture Introducing plant-based cheeses to cater to a growing demand for vegan options
Sustainability Reducing carbon emissions in the cheese production process Using locally sourced and organic ingredients for a more sustainable and ethical approach
Innovation Experimenting with new cheese varieties, such as blends and hybrids Creating unique flavors and formats to appeal to a wider audience

As the South African cheese industry continues to grow and develop, we can expect to see even more exciting advancements in production methods and emerging trends. With a commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation, South African cheese is set to make its mark on the global cheese scene.


South African cheese has a rich history and a diverse range of varieties that make it a unique and delicious part of the country’s culinary heritage. From traditional varieties like Boerenkaas to the innovative flavors of gourmet cheeses, South African cheese has something to offer every palate.

The cheese industry in South Africa has grown into a thriving sector, with producers committed to crafting exceptional cheeses using traditional methods. As the demand for South African cheese continues to grow, the country’s cheese exports are gaining recognition on the global stage.

Whether you’re a cheese enthusiast or simply curious about exploring the world of South African cheese, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of the varieties, producers, and tips to enhance your cheese experience. As the industry continues to evolve, we look forward to discovering new cheese varieties and innovations that will continue to delight cheese lovers around the world.

Questions and Answers

What are some popular varieties of cheese from South Africa?

Some popular varieties of cheese from South Africa include Boerenkaas, Brie, Cheddar, Gouda, Feta, and Blue Cheese.

Who are the leading South African cheese producers?

Some leading South African cheese producers include Klein River Cheese Farmstead, Dalewood Fromage, Fairview, and Simonsberg.

How is South African cheese different from other cheeses?

South African cheese often has unique flavors and characteristics influenced by local ingredients and traditional production methods.

Can South African cheese be exported?

Yes, South African cheese is exported to various international markets where it is gaining recognition for its exceptional quality and unique flavors.

How can I pair South African cheese with local produce?

South African cheese can be paired with fruits, cured meats, bread, and other delicacies from South Africa to create delicious flavor combinations.

What should I look for when buying South African cheese?

When buying South African cheese, it is important to look for freshness, quality, and to understand the different labeling and packaging.

Are there any South African cheese recipes available?

Yes, there are various South African cheese recipes available that showcase the versatility of the cheese and provide delightful culinary experiences.

What is the future of the South African cheese industry?

The South African cheese industry is evolving with advancements in production methods and adapting to changing consumer preferences and market demands.

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